Psychodelic preparation and integration
Psychedelics have long been used for their mind-altering effects. Due to incredible research results they are making their way into western medicine as a treatment for mental health difficulties. From July 2023, psychiatrists in Australia can prescribe MDMA/psilocybin for post-traumatic stress disorder/depression. The US could soon follow, with plans for the US Food and Drug Administration to approve MDMA to treat PTSD next year.
However, research is clear that psychedelics are not a panacea or a magic bullet that ‘will take problems away’.
To be used safely, psychedelics need to be treated with respect and working with them requires dedication, focus, clear intentions and good support including substantial care around preparation and integration.
To guide you through those processes, I use my extensive psychotherapeutic experiences, findings from research including psychedelic science, neuroscience and attachment-based research, and my personal experiences in the field of psychotherapy and psychedelics.
Therapeutically, I use relational/attachment lens, trauma and neuroscience informed practice, including IFS and somatic approaches.
In the context of IFS, research suggest that psychedelics increase awareness of our parts, often they can also increase access to Self – energy. This means that we not only clearly notice our parts but may also have spontaneous compassion for the parts we previously feared or hated. This kick starts a profound healing process where we start developing a more compassionate, loving, nurturing, connected relationship with ourselves and therefore with the the world around us.
The process of preparation is of key importance to fully surrender ourselves to the psychedelic medicine with trust. Subsequently to humbly follow the medicine and maximise the opportunities it offers of allowing access to our 'inner intelligence'.
There are some practical aspects of preparation, e.g. health screening including medical contradictions, any previous experiences with psychedelics, dosing, practical arrangements, what foods to avoid in the time leading up to the journey etc. Preparation is also a time to understand if this the right time for you, what your hopes are how to set your intentions. It is often useful to spend some time on expectations setting and how you might deal with feelings like you didn’t get what you hoped for from your journey.
This is also a time to practice embodiment - nurturing connection with your body/breath by gently and mindfully training yourself to keep turning your attention inwards to notice and be curious about inner emotional landscape and somatic responses. This is the skill we want to cultivate and tenderly bring into the psychedelic experience.
Psychedelics gives us access to our ‘inner intelligence' and tend to ‘amplify’ what needs our attention the most, to facilitate the healing process. Moreover, findings from research suggest that, using IFS language, psychedelics seem to relax our protective parts, often giving us uncensored, quite rapid access to witnessing and unburdening exiles. Because of the speed of unblending, this might elicit quite a strong backlash from the protectors following the journey if done without their permission. Therefore, prior to the journey we want to understand your protective system and what the protective parts might be most afraid of about the journey itself. We want to validate and respect their concerns, negotiate with/reassure them and through that process solicit their permission to embark on the journey.
Psychedelic experiences can open doors to deeper sense of connection with ourselves, the world around us and the mystical. But it can also open up doors to deeply stored trauma in the body or psyche and evoke suppressed memories, intense emotions or sensations. Subsequently, it can either give us experiences of euphoria, expansion, love connection, mystery, trust, beauty, gratitude humbleness or experiences of intense fear, grief or sadness.
All those experiences can be profoundly valuable. Some of those states can be overwhelming, leaving us feeling lost and unsure what to do next. Psychedelic integration is the process of making sense of those experiences distilling their wisdom and meanings and weaving the insights gained into your life. Through gentle therapeutic support, I can assist you in integrating these insights into your life, fostering new thoughts, behaviours, and nervous system patterns. Integration taps into neuroplasticity, building new connections for transformative healing in your psyche, body, and mind. Subsequently, with substantial integration support, psychedelics can help us to come home to ourselves, each other and the natural world.
Using IFS, I will facilitate a warm environment in which you can continue to nurture the relationship between your Self and your parts in a gentle and loving way, to further aid healing of the wounded parts. This is an ongoing journey of unfolding that continues weeks/months following the psychedelic experience. Connecting to our higher Self can also connect us to a very loving and expansive energy and its often fundamental to trauma healing as it can provide a fertile ground for developing a counter vortex to trauma vortex that often unwittingly suck us in.
Using somatic psychology, I can also help you foster somatic resources to build resilience or to find connection with blockages in the body to facilitate further release.